NORMAN — No longer an NCAA student-athlete, Gabe Ikard can enjoy all the excess pasta he wants.
The former Oklahoma center received four bags full of breadsticks, salad, desserts and — yes — pasta as a gift from Olive Garden on Friday in Indianapolis, where Ikard went through the NFL Scouting Combine.
“The response that PastaGate has gotten has been a little ridiculous, but extremely entertaining,” Ikard said Sunday morning.
The OU compliance office self-reported an NCAA secondary violation in which three student-athletes were served more than the allowable amount of pasta at a graduation banquet last May. The three athletes were required to donate $3.83 to a charity of their choice in order to be reinstated.
The excess pasta — revealed last week after The Oklahoman obtained OU's self-reported secondary violations through an open records request — became the talk of the nation, and Ikard and former OU lineman Austin Woods fessed up on Twitter to being two of the offenders.
“The compliance department notified us of the oopsy that the athletic department made,” Ikard said. “It wasn't that big of a deal, but it was still pretty weird.”
When he found out about the excess pasta, Ikard was on the phone with Daniel Orton, his former Bishop McGuinness basketball teammate who played collegiately at Kentucky and has spent time in the NBA.
Orton's mother died of lupus when the two were high-school seniors, so Ikard donated $5 to the Lupus Foundation of America to reestablish his eligibility at OU.
It's a good thing he got that taken care of, because as a senior, Ikard was a team captain for the Sugar Bowl champion Sooners and became a first-team All-American.
Ikard started 50 games on the offensive line during his collegiate career, and is now working toward a professional career.
The former Sooner played in the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game, and then had an impressive showing at the Combine last weekend.
Oklahoma runs an up-tempo, no-huddle offense that almost exclusively uses the shotgun, and Ikard said his ability to snap with a quarterback under center is one area scouts are concerned about.
“I proved I was capable to huddle and play efficiently at the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl,” Ikard said. “I also proved my ability to (snap with the quarterback under center) at those all-star games; I didn't have a single issue.”
And while the excess pasta revelation and the ensuing “PastaGate” saga were positively goofy, Ikard said he “had a lot of fun with it.”
The official Olive Garden Twitter account began interacting with Ikard last week, resulting in the bags of food he received.
He also got a good-luck phone call from David George, the Olive Garden president, the night before his combine field drills.
“I love how people have made this fun for Austin Woods and me because it really is just silly,” Ikard said.